Self-Reported Sexual Behavioral Interests and Polymorphisms in the Dopamine Receptor D4 (DRD4) Exon III VNTR in Heterosexual Young Adults
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Polymorphisms in the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) have previously been shown to associate with a variety of human behavioral phenotypes, including ADHD pathology, alcohol and tobacco craving, financial risk-taking in males, and broader personality traits such as novelty seeking. Recent research has linked the presence of a 7-repeat (7R) allele in a 48-bp variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) along exon III of DRD4 to age at first sexual intercourse, sexual desire, arousal and function, and infidelity and promiscuity. We hypothesized that carriers of longer DRD4 alleles may report interest in a wider variety of sexual behaviors and experiences than noncarriers. Participants completed a 37-item questionnaire measuring sexual interests as well as Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory, and were genotyped for the 48-bp VNTR on exon III of DRD4. Based on our final genotyped sample of female (n = 139) and male (n = 115) participants, we found that 7R carriers reported interest in a wider variety of sexual behaviors (r = 0.16) within a young adult heterosexual sample of European descent. To our knowledge, this is the first reported association between DRD4 exon III VNTR genotype and interest in a variety of sexual behaviors. We discuss these findings within the context of DRD4 research and broader trends in human evolutionary history.
KeywordsDopamine DRD4 Exon III VNTR Neuroscience Sexuality
This research was supported by generous funding from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the Schreyer Honors College Summer Research Scholarship, and the Catherine Schultz Rein Trustee Scholarship. We would like to thank Kerri Matthes, Ellen Quillen, Laurel Pearson, Abigail Bigham, and Denise Liberton for training and help with PCR protocols; Adam Focht for his help setting up the secure server for survey responses; and both the Editor and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments that improved the article.
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